The Beginning of Wisdom
A Compendium of Primary Kabbalistic Principles
Translated by Rabbi Amiram Markel
& Michoel Tzvi Wolkenfeld
Copyright 2004 2006 Torah True Judaism, Inc. Brought to you by http://www.TrueKabbalah.com
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Table of Contents Chapter One (p.3-7) The matter of the Sefirot, their names and G-d's conduct toward the worlds. Chapter Two (p.8-12) The six hundred and thirteen (613) limbs and organs of man and their spiritual counterparts, as well as the subject of the Partzufim. Chapter Three (p.13-20) The matter of the Divine names and the principles pertaining to them. Chapter Four (p.21-23) Matters corresponding to the Sefirot and their interrelationships. Chapter Five (p.24-26) The matter of lights and vessels, the development of the worlds, the concept of enclothing, inner light, encompassing light, and rebounding light. Chapter Six (p.27-31) The world of Tohu-Chaos, the world of Tikkun-Repair, The connection of the three upper Sefirot with the seven lower ones, Yisrael Saba, Tevunah, The seven Repairs, and the thirteen Repairs of the Beard. Chapter Seven (p.32-34) The joining & union of Mercy - (Rachamim) with Judgement - (Din), the six Sefirot of Zeir Anpin with Malchut, G-d, Blessed be He with the worlds, & the feminine waters with the masculine waters. Chapter Eight (p.35-40) The stages of conduct until eternity, Adam Kadmon and his Branches, and the emanations of his ears, nose, and mouth, the world of Bundles, Tzimtzum, and the Ray. Chapter Nine (p.41-47) Within which is explained the Worlds of Briyah - Creation, Yetzirah - Formation and Asiyah - Action; Palaces and Souls. Chapter Ten (p.48-50) Within which the matter of Sitra Achera and the complete repair in the time to come are explained.
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Chapter one 1. Since G-d is not confined to time and space or any other limitations, Kabbalah refers to Him as Ayn Sof - The Infinite. As He is infinite and boundless, so is the power of His Will. 2. The prohibition against the contemplation of G-d's essence is widely known. Whatever is related about G-d pertains only to His Will and providence, which are manifest by His actions. This general rule applies to all Kabbalah, as stated by Rabbeinu Moshe Chaim Luzzatto in his book Adir Bamarom, "It is self evident that any expression regarding the Emanator, Blessed Be He, refers only to His actions rather than His essence." 3. There are ten Sefirot by which G-d, Blessed Be He, creates and conducts the worlds. They Are: 1. Keter - Crown, 2. Chochmah - Wisdom, 3. Binah - Understanding, 4. Chessed - Kindness, 5. Gevurah - Might, 6. Tiferet - Beauty, 7. Netzach - Victory, 8. Hod - Majesty, 9. Yesod - Foundation, 10. Malchut - Kingdom. 4. The Sefirot are those divine faculties which G-d utilizes to create and conduct the worlds. 5. G-d governs the world with three general modes of conduct; Pure Kindness - Chessed, Pure Judgment - Din, and the median conduct of Mercy - Rachamim. 6. Keter influences great and unbounded kindness and mercy without discerning the merit of the recipient. This is because Keter represents G-d's ultimate intention in creation, that is to benefit All, as the Talmud states on the verse, "I will be gracious to whomever I will be gracious," - even to the unworthy. 7. Chochmah, too, is free of Judgement, influencing the world with great kindness including the unworthy, but, not to the extent of Keter. The quality of Binah is kindness as well, yet to a lesser degree. This is because judgements begin to arise in Binah, as mentioned in the blessing: "Who gives the rooster the understanding (Binah) to discern (Judgement) between day and night," - For sometimes, in order to prevent anarchy, G-d excercises judgement upon the world, so that evil, though a necessary component in creation for the purpose of choise, not be left unchecked. This judgement, in truth, is a kindness to the world. Moreover, kindness may be the motivating factor of severity, as scripture states, "For whom the L-rd loves, He corrects," and, "As a man chastens his son so does the L-rd your G-d chasten you."
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8. Keter, Chochmah, and Binah are called the first or upper three sefirot. When any of these are revealed, it is a time of great mercy and goodwill toward the world. They reflect G-d's ultimate intention in the world, unobstructed by the deeds of man. 9. Chesed is Pure Kindness, though only to the meritorious, as is the reward of the righteous in Gan Eden. Gevurah is Pure Judgement and retribution to the guilty, as is the punishment of the wicked in Genhenom. Tiferet is the median conduct of Mercy, between Chesed and Gevurah, but inclines more toward Kindness than Judgement. 10. Netzach is Kindness tempered with Judgement, for example, sometimes the righteous suffer in this world for their few errors, to be ultimately rewarded in the world to come - the seemingly negative being ultimately positive. 11. Hod is Judgement tempered with Kindness, for example, sometimes the wicked prosper in this world for their few virtues, to be ultimately destroyed in the world to come, as scripture states, "He pays his enemy up front to destroy him," - the seemingly positive being ultimately negative. Yesod is the median conduct between Netzach and Hod, tempered by both, but inclining more toward Judgment than Kindness. The world is generally conducted through this faculty. 12. The six sefirot (Chesed, Gevurah, Tiferet, Netzach, Hod, and Yesod) are collectively called the System of Justice in that they are responsive to human deeds, for even Chesed, which is pure kindness, applies only to the meritorious. 13. Keter is called Arich Anpin - Patient, because it represents unqualified mercy, which will only be fully realized in the world to come. (This gives the righteous the opportunity to acquire greater merit, and the wicked the chance to repent.) The six sefirot are called Zeir Anpin - Short Tempered, because they represent the qualified system of justice by which the world is presently being conducted. 14. Malchut is the medium for Divine providence through which the kingdom of G-d and his presence - Shechinah, will be realized and accepted by All. This sefirah has a dual function; it is a conduit that accepts mans good deeds and prayers, and responds by transmiting divine influence upon them. 15. The term Sefirot means Numbers - Mispar. The concept of sefirot can therefore be applied to many matters. Everything that exists can be divided into ten sefirot. 16. Scripture states: "All the hosts of heaven stand by Him to His right and to His left." The sages asked, "And are there right and left above? Rather, the right for virtue and the left for guilt." Therefore, a sefirah which influences Kindness to the worthy is allegorically considered "right" and one which influences Judgement upon the guilty is allegorically considered "left". 17. A diagram of the sefirot conveying this concept would therefore appear thus: Keter in the top center position, since it is the root of all. Under it, Chochmah to the right and Binah to the left, since in Binah descernments begin to arise. Under them Chesed to the
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Right and Gevurah to the left, with the median conduct of Tiferet centered below. Below them, Netzach to the right and Hod to the left, with the median conduct of Yesod centered below. Under Yesod, in the center, Malchut which recieves from All. 18. This diagram is allegorically called the Ten Upright Sefirot - Esser Sefirot D'Yosher. 19. There is also a diagram of concentric circles in which Keter encompasses Chochmah, which in turn encompasses Binah, etc., with Malchut at its center. This diagram is called the Ten Sefirot of Circles - Esser Sefirot D'Igulim. It conveys principles in the development of the worlds one from the other, and indicates that the more essential the conduct, the more all encompassing it is. But, when the subject is the divine system of conduct, the quality of its various modes and their interrelationships, the diagram of the ten upright sefirot is used. (The GR"A states that the circular sefirot indicate general providence and the upright sefirot, individual providence.) 20. Malchut is more severe than the six sefirot of Zeir Anpin, which represent the system of justice. For since Malchut is called "Righteous Judgement", it is more exacting. Only at times, through the merit of mankind does Malchut join Chesed (Kindness) resulting in Rachamim (Mercy). 21. A general conduct which is an expression of judgement, such as Malchut, is allegorically considered female. This is one reason that Malchut is often called Nukve (Female). 22. Binah is somewhat severe relative to Chochmah, since discernments begin to arise in it. Therefore, it too, is considered female. Accordingly, in kabbalistic terminology, when the judgemental aspect of a particular sefirah is mentioned, the feminine gender is used. For example, "Arich Anpin and his Female", refers to Keter, which is the quality of absolute mercy, and the potential judgement dormant in it. Gevurah and Hod, though they are expressions of judgement, are not generally considered female. This is because they are integral components in the reward and punishment of the System of Judgement - Zeir Anpin, and do not function independently of it. 23. The sefirot have both revealed and concealed aspects. The revealed is considered external, and the concealed, internal. An example of the concealed aspect is a kindness done in secrecy in which the kindness or goodness is not recognized, as stated in Proverbs: "Good is a revealed rebuke coming from a hidden